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107 Posts
QUOTE (hoarp001 @ 2 Sep 2007, 15:03) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi,

Before I started to scene the main layout, i decided to do a mock section of track. Its a bit of MDF with a straight bit and a curve of track, and a hill side. I mounted the track down on 1/8th cork and pinned it down. I managed to get the middle of the track looking brilliant, but then I did one of the sides and the excess ballast flowed over the top of the rail and screwed up the middle! Very annoying.

After about an hour I managed to get it all looking pretty good, but when i sprayed it with the water, then water and glue the spray blew some of the balast away and ruined it!

Any tips for me? Any instructional videos I could watch?
Thanks very much,


I still like the wallpaper paste and ballast miixture method.Never was keen on using white glue mixture and eyedropper method.

I spray my track after masking point blades with brown Krylon Camouflage paint system which gives a non-reflective,ultra flat finnish.It is a good grubby brown colour to use as an overall base before you do touch up work.

After all is dry I mix about one third or more Lepages Poly Stick Fast Wallpaper paste powder with two thirds ballast gleaned from Cordova Bay beach here and it looks like the Gaugemaster ballast shown in pictures in this thread.
It is very fine and requires a wash and dry.
I use a fine mesh strainer to get a consistant size ballast.It's coulour is a greyish with black an white mixed in.Volcanic in origin I think.
Also it is free!

I then sprinkle the ballast and wallpaper paste powder mixture on the track and tidy up with a ladies make up brush.
With a very fine misting spray bottle with a couple of drops of washing up liquid in warm water I spray the ballast gently giving it a good soaking.
Giving several light pases with the spray at first prevents any puffing away of ballast.
I use a cardboard mask to prevent overspray.

When all is dry and it does dry quite hard enough,then with a fairly stiff brush,brush off any excess ballast and vacuum.
A dental pick from your friendly dentist is also very handy for fine tuning.Mine is very obliging with the old ones no longer of use in the surgery.
Any mistakes can easily be rectified using plain water.
Clean up is also very easy with plain water.

I have tried the white glue method but found that it dries rock hard.
This makes it difficult for one to change ones mind regards re-tracklaying etc.
I am not sure if it would soften after wetting or not.The white glue they sell here is waterproof.

With the wallpaper powder method it is readily sofened with a spray of water and the track can be lifted easily and recovered,taken outside and washed with the garden hose.

For me this seems to be the best way of ballasting but then everbody has their own way of doing things they find the best.

Happy ballasting!


107 Posts
QUOTE (Graham Plowman @ 4 Sep 2007, 23:21) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Bryan,

The reason why the white glue method dries rock hard is probably because you're not using the right material and probably because you are using it 'neat'.
First of all, there are a number of different types of 'white glue'. Generally, here in Australia and the UK, we call it 'PVA'. Most are sold as 'woodworkers' glue and some are for indoor use while others are sold for outdoor use and are waterproof.

If you use these products 'neat' you will find they will set rock hard.
The method I described at involves diluting the PVA glue 1 part glue to 3 or 4 parts water. I also mix in some washing up liquid. The washing up liquid has the effect of breaking surface tension so that the watered glue soaks in. Because it is also an impurity to the glue, it also stops the glue setting rock hard.
I find that when this sets hard, I can dig it out with a screwdriver and it has a 'rubbery' kind of strength to it - a bit like digging up Evo Stick.

I'm not in favour of the wallpaper paste approach because it sends not to soak in very well if added on top. Even when mixed in, it still dries transparent and makes the ballast look like it has been flooded and waterlogged!

I think the main issue with ballasting is that people see it as a necessary 'evil' and look for production-line-type methods which enable them to rush the job, usually giving a 'rushed' appearance afterwards. My own view is that the diluted PVA method gives best results and it is the method used by most professional modellers even though some use variations on application methods. Once you get the hang of it, you can do it reasonably quickly.

In summary: choose the right type of PVA, dilute it, mix in washing up liquid and you won't have any problems and it doesn't go rock hard.

Graham Plowman


Thank you for your helpfull notes.

It is PVA here also and have followed methods written.There are many brands/types here,some are yellow. I would never use it 'neat' for obvious reasons.

My ballasting does not look waterlogged however.Misting it didn't seem a problem.Our house interior humidity is generally low here is,in fact some people have humidifiers to increace it,therefore it dries very quiclky.

Removing ballast is a simple task,just dampen it.
Requiring a screwdriver to dig it out seems like a daunting,messy task if you have a lot to remove.

Ballasting is a necessary evil as you say.

I am not really a professional modeller.


107 Posts
QUOTE (hoarp001 @ 4 Sep 2007, 22:29) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi,

Its not the setting the ballast that I find hard, its arranging it all to look nice and neat. I know in reality its not perfect, but it just looks odd unless its really straight.
Although i have found a way of making this abit easier... I went to B and Q and bought a .7m long brushed draught exclduer. Im sure you know the type, its just a long continuous brush. I used this to sweep a line of ballast up to the track and get a nice straight edge. After that I used a little brush to get it in between the sleeprs etc. I have a 6 inch bit setting now so hoepfuly it will look ok..


You could try masking tape along the side the track and remove it when everything is set.
The door sweeper sounds like a good idea too.

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